Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Government
November 17th, 2014
3:23
 

Once every few hundred thousand years the magnetic poles flip so that a compass would point south instead of north. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past.  Researchers think power grids and communication systems would be most at risk.  Is there work that you are engaged in that could help mitigate the effects of our world turning ‘upside down’???

 

Earth’s Magnetic Field Flip Could Happen

Sooner Than Expected

 

Schematic illustration of Earth's magnetic field. Credit/Copyright: Peter Reid, The University of Edinburgh

Schematic illustration of Earth’s magnetic field. Credit/Copyright: Peter Reid, The University of Edinburgh

 

Changes measured by the Swarm satellite show that our magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than originally predicted, especially over the Western Hemisphere.  The Swarm satellites not only pick up signals coming from the Earth’s magnetic field, but also from its core, mantle, crust and oceans.

Here is some additional information on the topic from the British Geological Survey site that you may find helpful: Reversals: Magnetic Flip

And some amazing detail from NASA:  Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All The (Geologic) Time

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There is almost frenzied focus to find alternative fuels for use around the world.  In the U.S., there are a number of different replacements for fossil fuel that have been, and continue to be, explored.  How will this affect the world economy?  Maybe you have a great idea for merging production with prosperity?  Here’s some news on the Ethanol front that may spark some creative thoughts for your own ‘liquid energy’.

Since 1981, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has been the authoritative voice of the U.S. ethanol industry. Our members are committed to helping our country become cleaner, safer, and more energy independent.

Click the pic to visit their website.

Click the pic to visit their website.

RFA Unveils New Mobile App

 

Ethanol Fun Fact:   Each bushel of corn used in ethanol production yields 17.5 lbs of nutrient-rich livestock feed, returning 1/3 of the bushel to the market.

 

 

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I fondly remember the Disney ride attraction “Mission to Mars” that my family and I would experience during each trip to Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida.  During the ride, the seats in the attraction would simulate the vibrations and G-forces from “Hyper-space” during take-offs and landings by filling up with compressed air. That ride has since been retooled a few times and morphed into Stitch’s Great Escape!

That memory came to the forefront of my brain when I read about the mission that six people will embark upon when they enter a 36 foot diameter geodesic dome on the slopes of the second biggest volcano in the solar system in Hawaii. And, to be sure, they are not there on vacation.

blog mars

This team is beginning an eight-month mission funded by the US space agency NASA to test if humans will be able to withstand the long periods of confinement in a tight space that will be required to send a manned space mission to Mars some time around 2030. For Martha Lenio, the 34-year old renewable energy entrepreneur who is commanding the mission, it is something else besides: a chance to explore the furthest frontiers of sustainability.

These engineers, who were hand-picked by NASA for their contribution to sustaining life within the pod, will have to be more self-sufficient than lunar astronauts who are in constant contact with Earth, Lenio said.

“Maybe all the things we learn about sustainability along the way will turn out to be the most useful thing about going to Mars,” said Lenio.

What a great opportunity for these six engineers – you never know what great adventure may come your way with the skills you possess.

 

 

 

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November 5th, 2014
4:10
 

The somewhat silly and obvious reply, “To get to the other side”.  Now, there’s an alternative response to those who are making inquiries about Saudi chickens… “To find a warm spot that’s not powered by diesel!”  Rising costs of diesel fuel are cutting heavily into the ability for Saudi poultry farms to stay competitive.  Changes must be made to address this problem – and they are in the works.

“Hybrid solar-diesel systems are an effective solution to provide power to poultry houses, many of which are not connected to the national electric grid. Solar-based solutions are well adapted to the Kingdom’s sunny conditions, and they can help reduce the poultry industry’s heavy reliance on diesel fuel,” said Mark Webster, agribusiness and food practice lead at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Read the full story here:

Saudi Poultry Industry Eyes Solar-Diesel Hybrids

 

Keeping people’s homes warm by use of hybrid fuel systems is gaining in popularity worldwide.  Why shouldn’t our feathered (or furry, or scaly, or finned) friends enjoy the same benefits that humankind has recently embraced?  After all, they’ve relied on the power of the sun to sustain them for millenia!  What innovative plans do you have in mind for reducing our reliance on cost-inflated and ever-shrinking supplies of  fuels?

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The 2014 Sustainia Awards, chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, attracted more than 900 submissions for projects and technologies representing 10 different sectors from food, fashion, city development, transportation, and healthcare. Collectively, these projects are deployed in more than 84 countries. You can submit your winning ideas for 2015 – see the bottom of this post.

Nigerian Pedal-Powered Recycling Initiative Takes 2014 Sustainia Award for Best Sustainability Solution

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Here are the 9 runners up:

1. Food finalist: Netafim (Israel) – gravity-powered irrigation

This irrigation system increases and secures yields while saving water and cutting costs. It drips precise quantities of water and nutrients right at the root zone of crops while an elevated tank distributes the water using gravity.

2. Transportation finalist: 8D technologies (Canada) – bike sharing app

The Spotcycle app from 8D technologies aims to make bike-sharing more convenient and smartphone-friendly.

3. Buildings finalist: Advantix (USA) – air-conditioners which use saltwater

Advantix’s air conditioning system uses saltwater which means it needs 40% less energy than normal systems.

4. Fashion finalist: I:CO (Switzerland) – textile recycling

Through an advanced take-back system, I:CO works to keep apparel, footwear and other textiles in a continuous closed-loop cycle.

5. IT Finalist: Fairphone (Netherlands) – A smart-phone with social values

Through development, design and production, social enterprise Fairphone works to create positive social impact in the consumer electronics supply chain – from responsible mining, decent wages and working conditions to reuse and recycling.

6. Health finalist: We Care Solar (USA) – solar suitcases giving life

The Solar Suitcase provides solar electricity for medical lighting, mobile communication and essential medical devices for rural areas and humanitarian settings. This enables safe and timely obstetric care, which ultimately improves maternal and neonatal outcomes.

7. Resource finalist: Newlight Tech (USA) – carbon-negative plastic

With its novel technology that converts greenhouse gases into plastic material, AirCarbon has disrupted the market by replacing oil-based plastics with a sustainable product that is competitive in both price and performance.

8. Education finalists: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha (Bangladesh) – school boats combatting climate change

By building a fleet of solar-powered school boats, the Bangladeshi initiative Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has secured year-round education in flood-prone regions of Bangladesh.

9. Energy Finalists: Opower (USA) – personal energy-efficient expert

The software solution combines cloud technology, big data and behavioral science to produce data analyses and personalised information on how to save energy.

Read all about these sustainability innovations here.

Do you have a great new idea on sustainability – find out how you can submit for the next round of finalists to be announced in the fall of 2015 – you may even take home the top prize!

 

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